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Occupancy cap to protect characteristics of private homes

URA's reply, 13 Jun 2017

Occupancy cap to protect characteristics of private homes

We thank Mr Wang Chun Yi for his letter (“Unreasonable to limit number of private home tenants”, 9 June).

To safeguard the residential environment, URA has lowered the cap for the number of allowable unrelated tenants from eight to six persons. This follows the Planning (Amendment) Bill that was passed in Parliament in February 2017.

The occupancy cap of six applies to all residing within the home when owners rent out their private residential premises to unrelated persons who are not from the same family unit. Multi-generational families, including domestic helpers and caregivers, are considered as part of the same family unit and will not be subjected to the occupancy cap. For private property owners with large units and would like to rent it out to larger families, this is permissible.

The occupancy cap was previously set at six persons, before 2008. It was raised to eight persons to ease the housing shortage for workers. We have since built up a strong supply of alternative accommodation that caters to non-familial groups of occupants, such as hostels (for students) and dormitories (for company employees and workers). In recent years, URA has also received more complaints from residents who were concerned with the noise and dis-amenities from units which had been rented out to a large number of unrelated tenants. To accommodate more tenants and increase their rental income, some owners resorted to erecting excessive unauthorised partitions in their homes. This is an undesirable outcome.

We have assessed that the occupancy cap should be reduced back to six persons as it was before 2008. This will ensure that the character of such residential premises is consistent with that of the local community. Given that private residential properties come in wide-ranging typologies, from small apartment units to detached houses, we have simplified the control for greater clarity to the public by using a fixed occupancy cap instead of adopting a stratified occupancy cap control based on unit sizes.

Goh Chin Chin (Ms)
Acting Group Director (Development Control)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

Letter, 9 Jun 2017, Lianhe Zaobao

Unreasonable to limit number of private home tenants

Mr Wang Chun Yi wrote on the recent occupancy cap change from 8 persons to 6 persons allowed in private homes that URA implemented on 15 May 2017 after the Parliament passed the Bill in Feb to amend the Planning Act to reflect the change.

He referred to the HDB subletting guidelines where one can rent a 1 or 2-room flat to 4 pax, 3-room flat to 4 pax and 4-room or larger flat to 9 pax. Mr Wang commented that the floor area of private homes tend to be bigger but can only rent out to 6 pax; while the floor area of the largest HDB flat may not be bigger than a landed home’s but can be rented out to 9 pax. He questioned how the figure derived and the reason for the cap. He also mentioned that he is a retiree whose main income is from the rental of his home. He reckoned that there are many people who are in the same circumstances as him and hopes that the authorities can provide an explanation.

View the letter and URA's reply in Chinese.